Not My President? Well… 

Ok, I wrote this after the Women’s March and didn’t post it then because, well, buzzkill. But now it’s Presidents’ Day and it feels… still relevant, so I’m going to share my possibly unpopular (what’s new) viewpoint.  


So I attended the Women’s March in Denver. It was amazing. 200,000 people in attendance was what I heard. And such an uplifting energy! I’m a shy introvert who doesn’t much strike up conversations with random strangers, but even I found it utterly delightful to connect with the people I found myself next to throughout the day. The speakers were so powerful, and delivered inspiring and energizing messages about the work that’s needed to build a nation in which everyone’s needs are cared for, and all truly have access to the resources they need to reach their best human potential. Yes!

I chanted, This is what democracy looks like! I hollered, My body, my choice! I sang, Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around… and This land is your land… 

But you know what I didn’t say?

“Can’t build a wall with hands too small.”
I didn’t say,
“Not my president!”
And I couldn’t make myself yell,
“Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go!”

And it’s not necessarily because I do prefer to be FOR something than AGAINST something.

It’s because I am very invested in America recognizing that this IS our president. 

He got enough votes to win. Whether you agree with the methods of counting that are used in presidential elections or not – he had the energy that carried the day. 

Because the energy was THERE. It’s been there for a long, long time. I’d venture to guess it’s been there since the first Europeans stuck a flag on this continent in 1492. Trump is just the first person in recent memory who’s been willing to be seen publicly tapping into that energy and using it to fuel a very successful campaign. He’s not particularly ashamed of how he got where he got, from what I can see – unlike most politicians, who don’t want to be seen as pandering to hate (even if that’s what they’re knowingly doing). Indeed, most Americans do not even want to acknowledge that this energy exists. 


Because it’s our shadow. 

And what’s a shadow if not those things about ourselves that we repress and disown because we can’t bear to face them?

I’m talking about our nation’s shadow. 

Our nation that was founded on genocide and funded by chattel slavery. 

Until it got well enough established to keep rollin’ forward without those tactics being explicitly part of its day to day practice. 

These methods are not accepted in what you could call polite international company, so we finally let them go. But not until they had gotten the nation to a position of economic and military strength. 

And even then, we made certain practices illegal – without touching the underlying values that had produced those practices in the first place. Chiefly, the value of “coming in first by hoarding as much as possible” – as much money, land, cheap labor, minerals, munitions, or whatever is seen as most valuable in a given context. 

It’s the main unspoken principle on which our country is based. 

And here we still are, folks. 

Donald Trump made that shadow visible. Because, well, I guess he doesn’t give a shit what people think of him when it comes to morality – and in that way, yes, he differs from most establishment politicians. 

Do I think his policies are good? Fuck no. You bet I’ll be taking a stand issue by issue. 

Do I think he’s THE problem? I do not. 

I think he’s part of our healing. 

Kind of like how a tooth can be infected and dumping diseased cells into the bloodstream for a long time before it suddenly starts to hurt enough to make you go to the dentist. At which point, you get a root canal – but you better change your habits, too, unless you want to be back in exactly the same seat next year, cringing under the drill, going “I hate dentists.”

Is the dentist really the problem here? Is it the tooth? Or is it the years of haphazard self-care that led to this moment? 

To be clear: I’m not saying the nice revolutionary women wearing pussy hats and chanting “Not My President” are secretly racists in denial. 

I’m saying that if we want a different nation, we need to own up to this powerful underground current of energy that flows under everything we do as a collective entity. 

Donald Trump IS my president in the sense that I am an American and this is a truth about my country. He represents something that’s really part of this nation. A pretty strong part, too, seemingly. Is denying that it exists going to help us change it? I don’t think so. 

Luckily, it’s only part of who we are. We have other values, too: faith in a better future; respect for individual freedom; appreciation for invention and creativity. It’s also written into our national consciousness that humans are creatures who can find better ways. 

That, too, is who we are and what we do. 

At church today I heard the minister say that acceptance defines our map through any challenging territory. 

If we are unwilling to acknowledge that something exists (even if there are reasonable reasons for that unwillingness), we’ll be mightily hampered in our ability to change it or to navigate through it. 

This Precious Present Moment

Yes, I too cast my vote for four more years of stability, of moving certain good policies forward step by incremental step while tabling other concerns as too complicated, too intractable, too much a part of the fabric of who we are to really engage with right now. I voted for the status quo. I voted for Clinton. But that’s not who we got (or so, at least, it seems, though I know some out there are working to overturn this outcome at the electoral college and other levels).

We got Trump. I didn’t want Trump – I REALLY didn’t want Trump – but we got ‘im.

And it feels to me like we’re now in a new era. The Trump era. The era in which Trump has been elected president. Maybe it will be over before the inauguration in 2017. Maybe it will go for eight years. We don’t know. All we know is that we are in it now.

In this now, in this present moment, which is the only moment there ever is, a large enough number of Americans have come together to successfully elect Trump as president to be. 

And I’m like,


This is where we are. 

What now?

And I’m drawing on my faith, and my education (I have a PhD in American Studies, though I’ve chosen to live outside of academia), and the power of creative vision to try and discern – 

What to do NOW? 

Now that here is where we are?

And my answer is the same as James Baldwin’s answer was in The Fire Next Time: Practice radical, transformative, revolutionary love. 

And I’m going to be offering, here in this space, and in every other platform that’s mine, and in every instance in which my opinion is asked for (or even just allowed), my ideas about what that radical, transformative, revolutionary love might or could look like in action.  

And I think that what I will have to offer may be challenging for some. It probably won’t be conventional. It may or may not be what you want to hear or what you’re ready for. And that is totally ok. I know we are all in different places on this. You be where you are. Be there fully, authentically, so you can speak the words you need to speak and ask for the care and support you need. I ask you to honor your rage, pain, hurt, grief, anger, fear, despondency, disappointment, alarm, and anything else you’re justifiably feeling, and let it move through you. Let the free flow of emotion clean you out from the inside. 

And if and when you wish to begin (or get back to) the work of healing this nation, may we find ourselves standing together. 

Because healing is what needs to happen here. Not reconquering. Not showing those so-and-so’s what’s what. Not smashing the “bad” people with our “good” “right” “truth.” 
(Challenging yet?) 

Not winning. Healing. 

I know I’ve said a lot already, but it has all been a lead-up to this, the “first thing” I want to say. 

I live mostly in a liberal bubble between Denver and Boulder, Colorado. But right now I just happen to be back in the area where I grew up, an extremely impoverished region of rural southwest Pennsylvania, visiting my mom, who is seriously ill. It goes almost without saying that this is deep Trump territory. When the results came in, I was wishing desperately that I could be back in my home community, comforting and being comforted by my friends, expressing my solidarity by standing together, singing together, praying together. 

But I that’s not where I was. So I stood, sang, prayed here – alone but connected. Together in spirit with not just my friends, but ALL the people. 

And then I went out. Into the world. Among the people. The people who are here. The ones that some of my liberal friends might consciously or unconsciously think of as hicks, rednecks, uneducated poor white trash. Racist, bigoted, homophobic, misogynist or simply duped and misled Trump supporters. My family. My relatives. The people I grew up with. The people I came from. Who shaped the course of my early life. 

And I saw

Their hearts. 

I saw their hearts. 

I FELT their hearts. 

And I recognized 

what I felt

because I have felt it 

in me. 

The opening in the chest when the fear, pain, hurt, anger that have been pent up inside, get to finally be spoken. 

The sudden shaky lightness of having been delivered of a weight of feeling that was crushing the soul with its heaviness, strangling the spirit with frustration, suffocating the life force with the despair of never being allowed to be spoken. 

And I see, above these hearts that have this sudden shaky lightness about them, jaws that are still clenched, facial muscles tense and twitching, necks stiff and unbending: People determined and ready to fight to keep from being forced back into silence. 

And what came to me was Marshall Rosenberg’s work on nonviolent communication, in which we recognize that people who are lashing out are doing so be they have needs that aren’t being met, and they’ve lost faith in peaceful means of getting their needs met, and they’re resorting to aggression out of desperation and hopelessness. 

And so you witness. 

You let them speak. You let them know you hear. You ask, Is there more?

You welcome them to speak until enough pressure has been released to make space to talk about other solutions. Effective solutions. Sustainable solutions. Solutions in which another person does not have to be harmed for the needs of the first to be met. 

Really met. Fully met. Lovingly met. 

So in the face of this group of people collectively waving their fists and shouting, I’M ANGRY! I’M UPSET! I’M SUFFERING AND I BLAME, I BLAME, I BLAME!

I’m going to say, Wow. I see that you are angry. 

I hear your words. 

I hear you when you say you’re frustrated. 

And I feel the fear and pain you’re in, underneath that anger. 

It must feel really bad. 

I’m really sorry you’re feeling that way. 

I hear you. 

I see you. 

I feel you. 

I love you. 

And I am committed with every cell and holy atom of my being to building a nation, a world where you, and you, and you, and I, and ALL of us, EVERY ONE of us, can have our needs met. 

In solidarity.